Confronting the global decline of coral reefs

Hughes, Terry (2009) Confronting the global decline of coral reefs. In: Duarte, Carlos M., (ed.) Global Loss of Coastal Habitats: rates, causes and consequences. BBVA Foundation, Madrid, pp. 140-166.

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Abstract

Human impacts have resulted in dramatic shifts in species composition in many marine and terrestrial ecosystems. These phase shifts are often long-lasting and difficult to reverse. Examples include the replacement of corals by sediment or algal blooms, changes caused by new diseases and invasions by exotic species, and the collapse of coastal and oceanic fisheries. Often these changes occur suddenly and emerge following a natural disturbance that is part of the ecosystem's normal dynamics. Instead of regenerating as they have done for millennia, many coral reefs have lost their capacity to recover from natural perturbations. A new approach to understanding the decline of ecosystems focuses on the concept of "resilience"-the extent to which ecosystems can absorb recurrent natural and human perturbations without switching suddenly or gradually into an alternative (usually degraded) state(Scheffer and Carpenter 2003). Anticipating and preventing unwanted phase shifts on coral reefs requires a better understanding of the processes that support or undermine resilience, and of the social and economic conditions that influence how people use and interact with reefs (Nystrom, Folke, and Moberg 2000; Alcala and Russ 2006).

Item ID: 11030
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
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ISBN: 978-84-96515-84-0
Date Deposited: 11 May 2010 03:58
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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